Category: Uncategorized (page 1 of 1018)

Bourdain on Money

Anthony Bourdain Does Not Want to Owe Anybody Even a Single Dollar | Wealthsimple

Nice overview of Bourdain’s approach to money. I like that he never really talks about retiring. I get the impression that he’s doing what he loves and it funds his lifestyle, and that’s good enough for him. That appeals to me.

I also found it interesting that writing books is the least lucrative of his activities. Turns out that corporate and promotional events is really where it’s at. Hmmm…

And lastly:

A friend said, “You live outside the country more than half of the year. Create a bogus residence in the Caymans and pay no U.S. taxes.” I’d feel like a shit doing that. I’m an American. I don’t want to be that guy. I don’t want to have those kinds of conversations.

Good on ya, Anthony. 👏


Squirrel Stuffed Toy PDF – Grainline Studio – Super cute little pattern. Very tempted. I think I’ve even got the materials to make it!

Two-Handed Fairisle (Flat)

I’m stuck in the house sick with a cold, so I decided to shoot a quick video of the technique I’m using for my current knitting project.

Talk videos!

I’ve been a bit remiss in sharing some of the talks I’ve been doing lately. Prepare to be bombarded!

This first one was “My Website Is Old Enough to Vote” from WordCamp Sydney back in September. I spoke about my twenty-year-old website (, the early days of the web, and how I did a complete rebuild of the site recently on WordPress. (The slides aren’t interspersed in the video so it’s a bit hard to follow, but you can see them separately online here.)

Next up was “Knit One, Compute One” at 2017 in Hobart last month. This builds upon my “Granny was a Hacker” lightning talk and details the connections between knitting and computing and some of the interesting knitting-related projects happening in Open Source software.

Last is “Traversing the Org Chart” from last week’s meetup in Sydney. This talk is about the skills you need to go from a hands-on individual contributor to a people manager, as well as the pros/cons of working in a flat, manager-less organisation.

YOW! 2016 Interview

That brings me one step closer to having my own talk show. 😂


Sanrio’s new character has an office job, drinks beer, and likes heavy metal – The Verge



I made a thing!

As part of my job at YOW, I attend a lot of meetups. One problem I’ve had over the past few months is in finding what user groups are available and when their meetings are.

For better or worse, Meetup has become the centralised point for discovery so I figured I’d start there. And they do have a convenient “Export to…” link that with a Google calendar option. (It actually gives you a link to an iCalendar data file you can subscribe to.) That’s great! But here’s the thing – it’s only meetups that you’re attending. So you not only have to be in each group; you have to already know about the event… which rather defeats the purpose for me.

Another option is the Meetup home page, which displays a feed of upcoming events. However, the options aren’t super helpful. “All Meetups” displays every single meetup in the location selected, which is only useful if you’re bored and don’t care what type of event you go to. “My Meetups” shows every meetup for groups you belong to, regardless of location. “I’m going” just shows the ones you’re going to. The only one that’s actually useful to me is “My Meetups & suggestions,” which does show events that I might want to attend… but it has two drawbacks. First, it’s not limited by location. That may not be a problem for the average person, but I go to meetups around Australia. The only workaround there is to have separate accounts per city. And second, there’s no RSS feed or iCal feed of this information. The only way to see it is to actually go to the Meetup site and scroll through it.

HOWEVER – Meetup has an API. So I concluded that in order to get the exact information I wanted, I was going to have to build a thing to extract it myself. So I did! I called it “MUGicalPHP” and it’s up on Github now.

How it works: My script first pulls down a list of all the meetup groups in a city within a range of selected technical topics. Then for each of those, it pulls down a list of upcoming meetups and arranges it into iCal format. A cron job kicks off the script, generates the feed for the city, and uploads it to my webhost once a day. So far I’m supporting Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, and Hobart. You can then paste those URLs into Google Calendar and subscribe to individual calendars.

I’m still fine-tuning the format for each event, but so far it’s working great. Yeah, yeah, I could make it more flexible (like supporting arbitrary locations). But that would be more work, and frankly this is doing everything I need right now. If I need more cities or topics, I can easily add them. My next goal is to start incorporating some of the user groups that aren’t on Meetup (like Girl Geek Sydney, SydJS, etc.) Please let me know if you find it useful or if you have any suggestions for improvements!

Thanks to @gilmae, @lucykbain, and of course, the Snook for all their help and encouragement. 🙂

Holiday sewing – 4 new tops!

I’d been feeling the itch to do some more sewing this holiday break, and I decided that I needed some more tops. (Let’s be honest. I have more than enough dresses.) I’d also bought some fun novelty fabric when I was home in the seven months ago – Wonder Woman and Dr. Who! So last week I washed and prepped everything, and I quickly realised I was going to have a problem. For some reason, I only bought a meter each of those fabrics. What?!! That’s not enough to do anything meaningful with. So very quickly I realised I was going to have to piece them and use contrast fabrics.

Wonder Woman Sorbetto

For the Wonder Woman, I had an idea to mimic her bustier with a sort of sweetheart neckline. I found this tutorial on adding a sweetheart yoke to a t-shirt and realised I could mimic that technique. I decided to base it off the Colette Sorbetto tank, which I’ve made a couple of times in the past. I traced a new version and removed the pleat from the front. Then I drew in the bust curve and cut the piece in two. I used the top piece to determine where to make the cut across the back piece. (I drew that line straight.) I added some extra paper so I could extend the 5/8″ seam allowance on all four pieces. Then I cut out my pieces, and I was ready to sew!

Honestly, I didn’t really have any idea how to sew those pieces together. The tutorial kind of glosses over it (and it uses knits anyway). Just imagine flipping that white bit over… You end up sewing a convex curve to a concave. In the end I did it in two passes, from the edge to the center each time. The very middle is a little bodgey, but mostly it worked!

The rest of the construction was straightforward. I did run into one issue on the sides – when I’d measured where to put the seam across the back, I hadn’t taken the seam allowance into account. I also cut WAY too large a size, but I was able to pinch out an inch in the center of the back and that worked great. For the binding, I wanted something shiny and gold like Wonder Woman’s lasso. I ended up getting a perfect shiny satin bias ribbon binding at Tessuti. It turned out great!

Grey Kate

For my second project, I unearthed some grey linen I’d bought last year along with the Kate Top pattern from Tessuti. I decided to do View B with the higher neck and the keyhole at the back. The sizing looked a bit small, so I lengthened by 1.5″ and sized up a little bit. The instructions were fairly clear, and the only problem I had was that the three pieces of bias binding I cut weren’t nearly long enough. (Luckily I had plenty of fabric to cut more.) This was my first time using tearaway Vilene shields to stabilise the neck and sleeve openings, and it definitely felt more stable than just staystitching. I loved the method for creating the mitered split hem! I also was pleased to find in my stash the perfect button for the back opening. My only complaint about the project – and I should’ve realised from the picture – is that it’s designed for a much smaller bust. (Next time I’ll do an FBA.)

Foxy Saltbox

For my third project, I really wanted to use the Dr. Who fabric to make the Saltbox top. (I bought that pattern a few years back as part of the Sew Independent Bundle.) Unfortunately I just didn’t have enough fabric. Then I remembered a really cute fox print I bought at Spotlight in Auburn last weekend and realised it would look great with the white I had left over from the Wonder Woman top. I checked my size and the pattern helpfully recommended that I do an FBA. It’s the first one I ever did, and it went really well! It helped that the pattern had the cut lines printed on it, and they gave you exact instructions for what to do. The whole thing came together very quickly! I also really liked the instructions for doing a continuous hem around the side splits. Next time I’ll have to do the version with sleeves!

Dr. Who Sorbetto

For my final project, I was determined to use up that damn Dr. Who fabric. Back I went to the Sorbetto, this time cutting a straight line across the bust. Even then, I still didn’t have quite enough to cut the front and back pieces. I ended up piecing the back down the middle. (I did an awesome job matching it up though so you can barely tell!) I’m still annoyed I couldn’t line up the TARDISes perfectly from front to back, but it’s so busy you can barely tell. This was the fastest project of all and I had it done in less than 4 hours, including the time it took me to make my own bias binding.

And that’s it! Four new tops. I’m actually really pleased with how it all went. The more I sew, the better things look. I didn’t sew anything back-to-front or have to do any major unpicking. On several occasions I said out loud, “I FRIGGIN’ LOVE MY OVERLOCKER.” It makes everything look so much more professional. I also got to do some serious 3-D geometry, from sewing curves together to doing my first FBA.

Weekly Meetup Wrap

The YOW! 2016 Conference is sold out in Melbourne, but you can still get tickets for Sydney and Brisbane. There are also DepthFirst workshops in Sydney and Melbourne.

Three meetups this week, including another trip to Melbourne!

On Tuesday I flew to Melbourne to host YOW Night in the amazing event space at Zendesk. Our speaker was Lindsay Holmwood of the DTA, the Australian government’s Digital Transformation Agency. More than 70 attendees gathered to hear Lindsay talk about the problems the government faces in digital service delivery, and how the DTA has tackled those.

Lindsay stunned us all with the statistic that the government has over 2200 web domains… that they know of. He challenged us to consider the difficulty in creating a consistent customer experience across those sites, keeping them patched and secure, and monitoring them for disruptions. He also told us about the vision for GOV.AU – an “alpha” responsive prototype that shows how “joined-up” government services could look and work for users.

Lindsay also debunked the myth that organisations need to choose between speed and reliability. The 2016 State of Devops Report actually proves that successful companies (as measured by actual stock market performance) actually release more frequently with fewer failures and shorter recovery times.

Lindsay also pointed us to the DTA’s Digital Service Standard, which includes thirteen simple criteria that every government (and private enterprise) can use to assess projects. He also walked us through the Service Design and Delivery Process and explained how you can “create a longer runway by pulling the tech forward.” Rather than thinking of doing more tech and less design, think of it as turning up the volume of tech earlier in the process.

On Wednesday Lindsay headed to the Brisbane YOW Night, hosted by YOW’s Craig Smith.

Back in Sydney, I attended the Microsoft Developer Event at The Star along with several hundred other developers and tech leaders. The big draw was, of course, the chance to see CEO Satya Nadella onstage, and he did not disappoint. You can watch his 40 minute keynote online here:

Nadella spoke of Microsoft’s mission to “empower every person on the planet to achieve more,” and how creating tools for developers is still at the heart of the company. Every business nowadays, he said, is a digital business.

Azure was a big topic for the day, including Cortana cognitive services, Blockchain as a service (there was a nice little spotlight on Australia’s Webjet), the new serverless compute service “Functions,” and a new Azure Bots service.

Nadella also earned a chuckle from the local crowd when announcing a new partnership with Cricket Australia to analyse player performance. “It’s perhaps not the best day to talk about Australian cricket…” he said.

Another highlight of Nadella’s talk was a video showcasing the new Microsoft Surface Studio. The crowd erupted in applause afterwards!

The rest of the event was more hands-on developer focused, and I can’t even begin to go into all the detail. There were sessions on using cognitive services to build chatbots…

…Microsoft’s relationship with Open Source (less than a day later it was announced that they’re now a Platinum member of the Linux Foundation!)…

…building apps with Xamarin for Visual Studio (which now has a native iOS emulator so Windows users don’t have to switch machines for testing!)…

…and a crash course on devops with Azure.

I was also really pleased to see local developers Wayne Schwebel and Rossano Gallardo recognised for their great work on the 9News Alerts app (Android | iOS).

On Thursday it was time for the third YOW Night of the week, this time in Sydney at Canva‘s offices in Surry Hills. Once again Lindsay Holmwood delivered his excellent talk about the DTA and what they’ve learned about digital service delivery. It was especially interesting (for me) seeing the same talk on different nights. I could tell where Lindsay made changes – in some cases because people who worked on the projects he was discussing were actually in the audience! – and also how he responded to the different energy of the crowds. (Melbourne laughed more than Sydney, I noticed.)

Thank you again to Lindsay for kindly spending most of his week travelling Australia and giving this talk. The audience across all three sites absolutely loved it, and everyone came away inspired to apply some of the DTA’s lessons in their own organisations. My favourite tweet of the week was definitely this one from our friend Christopher Biggs:

If you haven’t been to a YOW Night before, you should sign up for the YOW mailing list  (form in site footer) to hear when the next one is happening!

Weekly Meetup Wrap

The YOW! 2016 Conference is now sold out in Melbourne, but you can still get tickets for Sydney and Brisbane. We’re also hosting YOW! Nights in Melbourne, Brisbane, and Sydney  from Nov 15-17…

I spent the first three days of the week in Melbourne, visiting several tech companies and talking with CTOs and senior engineers. On Monday night I attended the MPUGMelbourne Python Users Group. This meetup is held at the University of Melbourne and is run by the fine folks at Python Charmers. The first speaker for the night was Brad Nguyen, a data scientist at Redbubble. Brad gave a lightning talk on how Redbubble used data to test, iterate, and improve on a particular new product feature. My favourite takeaway from Brad’s talk was that “Data science doesn’t have value by itself. It requires cross-functional collaboration.”

The next speaker was Ben Finney, whose entire talk was essentially a review of Mike Pirnat’s book How to Make Mistakes in Python. It was the first talk I’ve ever seen where the “slides” were actually just the text of the e-book! Ben told us about the parts he thought were particularly relevant, especially to the many Python newbies in the audience. I was interested to learn what “Hungarian notation” was and why it’s a bad idea.

The third talk of the night was by Robert Layton, a data scientist at Red Marker. Robert’s talk made heavy use of live coding in Jupyter Notebook as he showed us everything that had changed in the latest version of Pandas, an open source Python library used for data analysis. Robert was a fantastic speaker and used examples that were easy for everyone to understand, no matter their level of experience. I was also interested to learn afterwards that he’s working on establishing a startup accelerator in Ballarat. Very cool!

The final speaker of the night was.. ME! The organisers had let me know a few days earlier that they had room for a short lightning preso, so I gave my talk from TEDxMelbourne on ways you can embed data in knitting. (Thanks Jason Thomas for the photo and tweet!)

On Tuesday evening I attended CTO School Melbourne, which was hosted by Envato. It was a small but highly engaged group with representatives from some of the most prominent tech companies in Melbourne. The speaker was Nigel Fernandes, Architecture Practice Manager at Seek. Nigel talked about McKinsey’s concept of the Three Horizons of Growth, and how those horizons might be applied to people and teams as well as architecture and tech strategy. Nigel was a highly entertaining speaker and I really appreciated some of the practical activities he suggested for teams focusing on the different horizons.

On Thursday I attended the first day of Web Directions Direction 16 conference as a volunteer. I really appreciated how John Allsopp worked to create a positive tone for the day in his introduction.

I spent most of the day with Mike Sharp assisting at the Panedia VR booth. Founder Aaron Spence showed us how to work the Samsung Gear VR headsets, which played a short demo with full 360-degree live video that took you under the sea, beside the Opera House, and paragliding above the coast. We had a lot of fun during the breaks putting people into the headsets and watching them twirl around in amazement!

I did manage to listen to a few of the Direction 16 talks as well. Jonathan Shariat gave a great talk about tragic design – how bad design fails people and what designers can do about it. He got a laugh during his section on Impolite Software, when Clippy “helpfully” popped up to assist him with his presentation. Impolite software pushes itself forward, patronises, and assumes that its needs are more important than the user’s.

Jonathan also made some great points about accessibility:

I also enjoyed the opportunity to geek out on fonts during Wayne Thompson‘s talk “Everything you always wanted to know about fonts (but were too afraid to ask)”. Wayne talked to us about the nut and bolts of creating fonts, and why most free downloadable fonts on the web are pretty crap.

In addition to showing us what makes for a good font, Wayne also gave us a list of fonts NOT to use. As he put it, “If you have Arial as your corporate font, I urge you to resign.” 😂

The next talk was by my friend Lucinda Burtt, Head of Product Design at Fairfax. Lucinda’s topic was the importance of using data to inform design: qualitative, quantitative, attitudinal, and behavioural. She also gave us tips on A/B testing as well as some data-driven pitfalls.

The last talk I saw – and probably my favourite – was from Aubrey Blanche, Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Atlassian. Without slides, Aubrey simply talked of the practical strategies she and her team had employed to increase the percentage of women hires. She talked about overcoming subconscious bias, and how Atlassian proved that coding submissions from men were more likely to go forward to interview. (They controlled for code quality by literally submitting the same code again with a woman’s name on it!)

I particularly liked the process Aubrey described for rewriting Atlassian’s job ads to be more inclusive. They cut down on the number of requirements and ensured they were all skills-based rather than experience-based. They also eliminated language like “ninjas” and “rockstars” which tend to appeal more to men.

The last event I attended for the week was the Sydney Bots Meetup at Bilue. This is a new group and this was only the second meetup ever. The first speakers were both from Domain: Mark Cohen, CTO, and Gary Lo, Android Developer. Mark started off by telling us some of the internal uses Domain has found for chatbots, such as finding meeting rooms in their newly renovated offices and submitting coffee orders to the company barista!

Next, Gary told us about the customer-facing bot they had built atop Facebook’s Messenger platform. Gary said that Domain got some excellent free PR for it, and they were excited to see people really making use of it. The early analytics and logs really helped the team to refine and improve the responses they provided to users.

The final speaker for the night was Alex Boudreau, Tech Lead at Boomworks. Alex traced the evolution of chatbots from their earliest incarnations, including IVR and a familiar annoying paperclip…

Alex also told us about the current state-of-the-art with chatbots, including Amazon’s offer to award $1M to anyone who can build a bot that can converse coherently for twenty minutes. He also talked about natural language processing and how neural networks are being used to build bots that are context-aware. Rather than simply recognising a keyword and spitting out a response, the bots of the future will be able to learn how to respond to any command.

Only a few more weeks of meetups left before the holidays! Next week for me will be dominated by our YOW! Night talks with Lindsay Holmwood from the government’s Digital Transformation Agency. Tickets are still available for Melbourne (Nov 15), Brisbane (Nov 16), and Sydney (Nov 17). Hope to see you there…